Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor to widen the demographic of students from our higher education institutions taking up international study abroad or internship opportunities


In the University of Limerick today Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor launched a report “Enhancing Mobility for Access Students Ireland [EMASI]” and online resource for higher education institutions in Ireland to widen student participation in international mobility opportunities, such as Erasmus +, for non-traditional students such as mature students, student with disabilities or from lower socio-economic groups.

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Minister Mitchell O’Connor hosts information summit on Technological University application process

The Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, T.D. today convened an information summit of all the Presidents and Governing Body Chairpersons of institutes of technology involved in consortia working towards technological university designation.

The purpose of the event, held in the headquarters of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), was to brief the Presidents and Chairpersons on the practical implications of the new Technological Universities Act 2018 for the technological university development process. The Minister piloted the Act to completion in the Houses of the Oireachtas on 8 March 2018 with the Act being signed into law by President Higgins on 19 March 2018.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said “I am delighted that we have succeeded after a considerable period to put the Technological Universities Act in place. This provides the legislative framework upon which TU development consortia can now progress their applications when readied. Technological universities will be a critical step-change in the Irish higher education landscape and will significantly strengthen the sector’s impact at regional, national and international levels.”

The meeting was attended by officials from the HEA, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of the Taoiseach and the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland (QQI). At the meeting the legislative provisions and practical processes involved in the making of an application to the Minister for Education and Skills for two or more institutes of technology who wish, and are in a position to, apply for technological university designation, were set out. The consortia representatives engaged fully in the subsequent question and answer session on procedural matters relating to the application process, eligibility criteria, panel assessment etc.

Senior representatives of the institutes involved in all four of the current consortia attended the meeting and confirmed the intent to progress applications. The consortia are at different levels of progression with the first application on behalf of the TU4Dublin consortium – comprising Dublin Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown and Institute of Technology Tallaght – expected to be submitted by the end of April 2018 and further applications anticipated by the end of the year.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor stated “The attendance of such senior representatives and in such numbers is a clear signal to me of the intent of all the consortia to progress as speedily as possible with their plans to attain TU status. The legislative process is in place, the Exchequer is providing significant developmental funding and a rigorous assessment process involving an international expert advisory panel is being established by the HEA to ensure that technological universities become a reality very soon. I have also put in place a specialist unit in the Department to assist consortia in the TU development process. All practical assistance is being, and will continue to be, provided to bring this key piece of higher education restructuring to fruition.”

Minister Mitchell O’Connor awards 40 students from under-represented groups 1916 Bursary Awards

The 1916 Bursaries, initiated to support access to higher education for under-represented students will be awarded to 40 students in a ceremony at the GPO Witness History Museum on the 17th April. The bursary scheme funded by the DES /HEA under the Programme for Access to Higher Education (PATH) Fund is aimed at increasing diversity in Higher Education.

The recipients, termed “Leaders and Learners” in recognition of the strong focus on education and equality of leaders of the 1916 Rising, are selected from under-represented communities and first-generation entrants to college, including lone parents, students with disabilities, Irish Travellers, members of other ethnic minorities, and refugees and asylum seekers

A UCD-led consortium comprising Trinity College Dublin, Marino Institute of Education, the National College of Art and Design, and the Institute of Art, Design and Technology – have come together to support the 1916 Bursary Fund. The recipients join a growing body of students already receiving supports through access programmes of the participating colleges. Bursary applicants were asked to outline their aspirations for the future, identify the financial and social impediments that stood in their way and give examples of how they had already shown leadership in their homes, schools or communities.

In her address the Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, said: “These 1916 bursaries are a fitting tribute to the educational vision of those who fought for Irish independence. It is apt that they are being launched here in the GPO. The leaders of the Rising were also learners with a range of qualifications: nurses, teachers, accountants, soldiers and sculptors. Their education contributed to their involvement in the Rising and their vision of a new Ireland of equal rights and opportunities. A century on, we are still striving to make this vision a reality, and these bursaries show the commitment of our colleges to greater equity in education.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Professor Grace Mulcahy, Chair of the Consortium said, “just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the Higher Education Community to be truly effective in recruiting and retaining students from diverse and under-represented backgrounds; these bursaries are an essential component to ensuring that we continue to do so.”